Why All the Mysticism with Migraine Headaches?

I sat down with a new patient (let’s call her Mrs. Jones) last week and in her consultation she stated that she had neck pain, radiating arm pain, upper back pain and numbness, and a long history of migraine headaches.  After years of taking prescription painkillers, her doctor decided that she should try some physical therapy for her neck and upper back.  She would still have to take a cocktail of painkillers as well as an anti-seizure drug, Topamax, for the migraines.Mrs. Jones stated that the therapy did decrease the tightness and some of the pain in her upper back and neck, but the numbness was still there.  Overall, she was doing better than when she started and wondered if her neck and upper back problems could be associated with migraines.  Mrs. Jones just thought it made sense since her migraines often occurred alongside flare ups of her neck and upper symptoms.  She decided to ask her therapist about this revelation.  The response she received took her by surprise.  The therapist swore up and down that migraines are absolutely NOT associated with her neck and upper back AT ALL.  Mrs. Jones stated that the therapist “actually got defensive” about it, asking her “Where did you hear that?”  She made it clear that she was there for her pain and tightness and NOT her headaches.

I bring this up not to pick on the therapist, because she obviously was doing Mrs. Jones some good with the tightness in her back and neck.  What concerns me is that this therapist was obviously parroting what she had been told about migraine headaches.  This therapist, along an alarming number of health care providers, have been programmed to believe that migraine headaches are some mystical condition that can only be treated with “migraine” medications and nothing else.  According to this line of logic, these patients just mysteriously woke up one day with a lack of painkillers and anti-convulsants in their systems.  That sounds plausible, right?

It is a well known fact among any practitioner that has even an elementary understanding of anatomy and biomechanics that “tension” headaches are often caused by dysfunction in the neck and upper back.  Unfortunately, many health care providers still treat these headaches with painkillers and muscle relaxers, completely ignoring the underlying cause, so they just treat migraines the same way.  Why?   Because they cannot treat joint dysfunction in the neck and upper back, but what they CAN do is fill out a prescription.  Think about it, you have a clinic full of doctors who only have hammers. Sooner or later, everything just starts looking like a nail.

Unfortunately, not all migraines are caused by spinal problems.  Food allergies, hormonal imbalances, and depression may play a role.  However, we have seen many of our patients recover from debilitating migraine headaches by treating the delicate joints of the neck and upper back with the Atlas Orthogonal and Activator Methods chiropractic techniques.  Most people understand that a pinched nerve in the lower back can cause pain in the leg.  Through similar anatomical pathways, a pinched nerve in the neck can also cause pain in the head.  Any dysfunction in this area irritates the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels that travel through the neck bones, or vertebrae, on their way to the head.    A simple chiropractic exam will reveal whether a patient shows signs of vertebral misalignments.  If so, a trial of care will reveal whether or not chiropractic adjustments will help YOUR headaches.

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